The Philadelphia Realist painter Thomas Eakins executed exhibition watercolors during a brief period of his career. In this bird-hunting scene set in the marshes of southern New Jersey, he used dry, tightly controlled brushstrokes to model his central figure and more fluid washes for the landscape. While the subject matter and academic approach (including extensive preparatory studies) parallel his work in oil, the artist preferred watercolor for this sun-drenched picture because it allowed him to paint “in a much higher key with all the light possible.”
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Thomas Eakins (American, 1844-1916). Whistling for Plover, 1874. Transparent watercolor and small touches of opaque watercolor over graphite on cream, moderately thick, moderately textured wove paper., 11 5/16 x 16 11/16 in. (28.7 x 42.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Collection Fund, 25.656
Museum Collection Fund
11 5/16 x 16 11/16 in. (28.7 x 42.4 cm); Frame: 24 x 30 x 1 1/2 in. (61 x 76.2 x 3.8 cm)
Transparent watercolor and small touches of opaque watercolor over graphite on cream, moderately thick, moderately textured wove paper.